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Reducing Maternal and Infant Health Disparities

Creating better service, practice and outcomes for healthy Black moms and babies

In America, Black women are 3-4 times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women. The U.S. has the highest maternal and infant mortality rate among comparable countries.

Read more about maternal and infant health disparities

How wayside is addressing maternal health disparities

Wayside Recovery Center understands that the maternal and infant mortality crisis cannot be adequately addressed without understanding and dismantling racism and bias in our medical and behavioral health systems. We also understand that the complexities of the crisis require community-based responses. This means not only addressing the stigma associated with substance use disorders and mental illness, but also recognizing the inequalities that persist across the behavioral health system.

We owe it to the women and families we serve to play an active role in addressing healthcare gaps.

With support from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), Wayside is hosting a free public education Project ECHO series that focuses on fostering collaboration between patients, community and health practitioners to deliver high-quality care to Black mothers, infants and their families.

Funded fully through the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (MN DHS). Nothing in these materials constitutes a direct or indirect endorsement by SAMHSA or the MN DHS of content, services or policies.

To receive regular invites about future events in this series, sign up online.

Moving Maternal Health Forward: Virtual Workshop May 10 & 11


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Register for Day 1

8:30 AM: Welcome
SESSION 1 9:00 AM-10:00 AM – Dr. Kendra Flores – Keynote Speaker – Centering Humility in Black Maternal Health
SESSION 2 10:00 AM-11:00 AM – Muffy Mendoza – Brown Momma Monologues
SESSION 3 11:00 AM-12:00 PM – Brandy Frye – I am Bias


SESSION 4 1:00 PM-2:00 PM – Sameerah Bilal Roby – African American Babies Coalition AABC


Thursday, May 11, 2023

Register for Day 2

8:30 AM: Welcome
SESSION 1 9:00 AM-10:00 AM – Dr. Talaya Tolefree – Restorative Practices in Maternal Health Care
SESSION 2 10:00 AM-11:00 AM – Calvin Williams, CLC – The Impact of Father’s on Reproductive and Infant Health and Development
SESSION 3 11:00 AM-12:00 PM – Amy Langenfeld – Overdoses during Pregnancy


SESSION 4 1:00 PM-2:00 PM – Doula Panel – Maternal Health Collaboration

Thursday May 11, 2023
Mentoring and the MIH MINI Conference
Wayside Recovery Center is hosting a screening and conversation about the “Birthing Justice” documentary in partnership with The National Birth Equity Collaborative (NBEC).

5:00 PM – 5:25 PM: Networking
5:30 PM: Welcome
5:40 PM – 6:45 PM: Viewing the documentary
6:45 PM – 7:20 PM: Table Discussions
7:30 PM: Closing

Location: Oak Room on the 2nd floor
12605 Rockford Rd, Plymouth, MN 55441
French Visitor Center, Three Rivers Park District (

Questions? Contact for more information and to receive registration updates.

All sessions are scheduled for 12-1 p.m. CST.

*CME available
**CEU available

Wednesday, March 19, 12-1 p.m.
MIH "GREAT MOMs Model of Care- Changing Health System Management Through Advocacy"
Cara Poland, MD, M.Ed, FACP, DFASAM
Register Now

Be able to understand through a case study how to change standards of care within a large hospital system. Understand basic concepts of treating pregnancy-impacted substance use. Learn how to coordinate on the ground clinical efforts with broader advocacy at the insurance and hospital level.


CEU for 3/15/2023 session

Wednesday, March 15, 12-1 p.m.
Equitable Data Science for Maternal Health
Senan Ebrahim, MD PhD
Register Now

Equitable data science is essential to serve diverse patients with proactive prenatal care. The racial inequities of the maternal health crisis and inequitable practices in rapidly advancing machine learning technology require close examination. Literature reviewed in this presentation will include machine learning best practices for equitable performance. Through the case study of predicting hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, participants will learn how to build equitable, high-performing predictive models and adopt best practices for equitable data science.


Monday, February 27, 8 - 10 a.m. & Monday, March 13, 12-2 p.m.
Mentoring Maternal Infant Health Sessions with Dr. LaVonne Moore, DNP, CNM, IBCLC
Register for Session I, February 27 (morning)  (limit 10 participants)
Register for Session II, March 13 (afternoon)  (limit 10 participants)

In partnership with Wayside, Dr. LaVonne Moore will be hosting two repeating Zoom sessions for health professionals in a small setting to share best practices, resources, and discuss quality care improvements to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. This session will review Clinical Considerations to improve Black Maternal Health Outcomes. For more information please contact

Black Women and Maternal Health Inequities: Addressing the Role of Racism
with Dr. Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha, PhD, MPH, CHES

Improving Maternal Outcomes through Evidence Based Digital Community Spaces
with Layo George, BSN, MHSA

Integrating Reproductive Justice within Maternal Mental Health
with Ana'Neicia Williams, LCSW, PMH-C

How Race-based Stress is Correlative to Maternal & Infant Mental Health for Culturally Marginalized Women and Children
with Dr. Cirecie West-Olatunji, PhD

Respect in Health Care: Human Right & Provider Obligation
with Leslie Farrington, MD

Polling Spotlight: Understanding the Experience of LGBTQ+ Birthing People
with Carla S. Alvarado, PhD. MPH

Maternal Infant Health - The (W)holistic Birth Experience
with Akilah Whitherspoon, BS, CPFSW, CD, (NBDA) CLC, LCCE

Maternal Infant Health - Partnering to Decrease Maternal Mortality
Dr. Corinne Brown Robinson, Dr. Domonique Jones and Rhonda Fellows

Leveraging Technology to Address Maternal Child Health Needs
Juliette Frazier, MPH

Providing Efficacious Communication of Pregnancy Loss and Reproductive Grief Care
Kathryn Grauerholz, MSN, MP, ACHPN, and Dr. Lauren Rubal, M.D. FACOG

Pregnancy After Loss Isn't Always Rainbows & Sunshine
Stephanie Crawford, M.Ed

Beyond the Birth: Patient-Centered Care in the Fourth Trimester
Ellen Jirik and Christian Minter

Helping Children Thrive: Addressing Health Disparities and Fostering Social-Emotional Development Among Youth in Foster Care
Katie J. Stone, PhD

Reproductive Grief Care: Comforting Those Who Mourn
Sara West, MS-PH, Certified Reproductive Grief Care Instructor

The Black Maternal Health Crisis and How Doulas Can Be a Part of the Solution
Tamara Mason, MPH, CHES

Catalyzing Racial Equity: Elevating Voices, Addressing Depression, Toxic Stress and Equity
Dr. Ebony Carter, Kelly McKay-Gist and Teneisha Parks

Culturally-Sensitive Perinatal Support During the Pandemic
Muna Bashir, MA-MCHS, CD (DONA), CCE (CAPPA)

Pregnancy, Food and Eating for Two
Dr. Sharan Rahman, MD, MBA, NCMP

Perinatal Substance Use & Reporting Laws
Dr. Cresta Jones, MD, FACOG

Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnancy: Beyond the Stigma to Evidence-Based Treatment
Amy E. Langenfeld, APRN, CNM, PMHNP-BC

Doulas Are So Much More
Shanika Clarke and Michelle Henderson

Fathers Are Not Born, They Are Made
Calvin Williams

Transgenerational Trauma
Dr. Cirecie West-Olatunji

Fathers and Perinatal Health
Calvin Williams

Expecting and Parenting Youth: An Exploration of Needs and Value Systems 
Tamara Moore

Racism & ACES 
Sameerah Bilal-Roby

Got Chocolate Milk? The Role of Culture in Breastfeeding
Dr. LaVonne Moore

Black Babies Matter
Dr. Rachel Hardeman

Mommas' Reproductive Justice & Police Violence
Dr. Rachel Hardeman

Prenatal Exposure to Substance Use Disorder 
Dr. Judith Eckerle

Infant Health & COVID-19 
Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell

Black Providers, Better Outcomes 
Dr. Veronica Gillispie-Bell

The Role of OBGYNS in Advancing Perinatal Justice & Accountability
Dr. Karen Scott

Historical Perspectives on Black Maternal Health Disparities
Ruth Richardson

Addressing Racism as a Public Health Crisis
Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones

Funded fully through the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (MN DHS). Nothing in these materials constitutes a direct or indirect endorsement by SAMHSA or the MN DHS of content, services, or policies.